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Happy Easter!

by Meagan Francis on April 20, 2014

Clara Easter

I’ve been spending time with family all weekend, so no Sunday Morning Tea this week. Whether or not you celebrate Easter, I hope you’re having a wonderful day! – Meagan and family  

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I’m proud to be partnering with #TalkEarly, a program dedicated to preventing underage drinking sponsored by FAAR (Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility).

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Earlier this month, my friends at the #TalkEarly campaign asked me to answer this question: how – and where – do you talk to your kids about drinking responsibly? 

My answer was easy: 

“All of our conversations seem to start around the dinner table – and since that’s often the time of day that Mom or Dad are enjoying an adult beverage, it’s also a great opportunity to talk about why grown-ups can do things kids can’t. It’s not because we’re mean or hypocritical: we just understand that alcohol works differently in our bodies than it does in a developing kid’s, and it’s an opportunity to make sure they understand that, too.”

I admit there are plenty of times that my kids have wanted to know why they can’t have a taste of Mom’s wine at the table. After assuring them that they are probably much happier with their milk or water, and that young tastebuds usually don’t appreciate alcoholic drinks anyway, I always make sure to emphasize that this is not a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do situation. [click to continue…]

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Have you ever dreamed of leaving everything behind and traveling the world with your children?

If so, you’re sure to love listening to my conversation with Heather Greenwood Davis, mom of two boys, travel writer and the creator of the blog Globetrotting Mama.  Two years (ish) ago, Heather, her husband and two kids embarked on a year-long journey around the globe, spending time in 29 continents and six countries. Her story is so inspiring for anyone who’s ever wanted to take a risk or do something unusual with their families – and definitely encouraged me to move those “can’ts” out of the way and create the kind of family life I want to live.

Listen now! 

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Every Sunday morning I share a moment from my week and something it illustrated about motherhood, family life, or simply being human. I invite you to set aside a moment out of your weekend for reflection and join me for Sunday Morning Tea. -Meagan

holding hands

This week the world was abuzz with the news that Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband Chris Martin are divorcing, announced in what many folks on my social networks seemed to feel was the most obnoxious divorce announcement of all time. The actual notice was brief, vague, and, I thought, classy. But Gwyneth’s choice to title the post “Conscious Uncoupling” – and to follow the announcement with a lengthy description of what conscious uncoupling is and why it’s better than plain-old divorce – definitely rubbed people the wrong way.

I clicked through to the post expecting to be irritated, but reading the accompanying article – which I think it’s important to point out, was written by Dr. Habib Sadeghi & Dr. Sherry Sami, not Gwyneth herself – I actually was surprised by how much of it resonated with me.

I’m not sure I can get behind the idea they seem to be presenting that the human race has evolved past lifelong monogamy – I believe we are more adaptable and capable of long-term commitment than the article suggests – but I definitely agreed with their premise that much of the anger that surrounds divorce is caused by shame and guilt, that we lash out at the other person so strongly because we believe the dissolution of a relationship must equal failure. And the deeper we retreat to protect ourselves from a perceived battle, the more bitter and angry and even meaner we get. 

I certainly experienced that when Jon and I separated and divorced. If you know the end of the story, you know that we eventually reconciled, remarried – recoupled, if you will – and have been back together now for over a decade, with more children, strong, solid, and with all the promises of “happily ever after” that this uncertain life can offer. [click to continue…]

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This post is by Heather Caliri, regular contributor to The Happiest Home and blogger at A Little Yes. Heather writes about saying “yes” to little things that scare us. You can read all her posts here.

I have a morning habit that grounds me and strengthens me every day. I look forward to it, and depend on it to give me some equilibrium. I manage to make it a priority, no matter what.

What is it?

It’s reading advice columns while I drink a cup of tea.

You thought I was talking about yoga, didn’t you?

My habit doesn’t sound very productive. I spend fifteen every morning reading puff pieces in the Washington Post. I shush my kids and half-answer my husband and–you know what?

It really does me good.

I’ll be honest: I have mixed feelings about this habit of mine. Mornings are precious; I want to be present for my family. I could be using those minutes to cultivate habits related to my writing, or my faith; I could prepare for my day of homeschooling. Heck, I could simply empty the dishwasher. I could be doing so much more.

The only problem? I don’t want to. [click to continue…]

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Every Sunday morning I share a moment from my week and something it illustrated about motherhood, family life, or simply being human. I invite you to set aside a moment out of your weekend for reflection and join me for Sunday Morning Tea. -Meagan

Very cool animated photo courtesy of my husband Jon and Flixel.com. Taken the next day, because we realized we forgot to get a good blowing-out-the-candles shot on her actual birthday.

You all know my feelings about “good-enough” kids’ birthdays, right?

I’m not opposed to fancier, more organized shindigs with themes and gift bags and bounce houses, but with five kids – four of whom have birthdays in the same season – we opt for simple, laid-back parties nine times out of ten. No theme, no elaborate decorations – just the birthday child, a few gifts, a homemade (and decidedly amateur) cake. 

But this week, Clara turned five. And five – particularly for the youngest child in the house – feels like a particularly momentous birthday. Besides, with the dreary weather we’ve been having lately, I felt like we could all use a little fun. So I decided to go a little bit outside my comfort zone by planning a party with themed decorations! And an ambitious cake! 

And what I found? A slightly more thought-out party really didn’t add any stress to the day. [click to continue…]

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podcast, parenting

Have you ever wished you could be calmer in the face of tough parenting decisions – and feel more confident with your choices?

If so,  you’ll love today’s interview with Todd and Cathy Adams, the husband-and-wife team behind Zen Parenting Radio. In the interview, we talk about:

  • How to pay attention to your gut and parent in the moment
  • Quieting the noise around you and becoming more self-aware so you can follow your instincts and sense of what’s right, rather than worrying about what “other people think.” 

You’ll definitely want to check out Cathy’s book, The Self-Aware Parent, and B.U. Inc, a workshop for kids taught by both Cathy and Todd which teaches kids to build their emotional intelligence and self-awareness and acceptance. 

Listen now!

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I’m also excited to have Shana Draugelis of Ain’t No Mom Jeans back on the show this week to talk about spring style! We discuss how to incorporate spring pieces into your look when there’s still snow on the ground (ugh) and how to dress for spring break – including trips to Disney World. 

Here are links to some of the pieces Shana and I talked about on the show: [click to continue…]

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photo credit: my awesome husband Jon!

“I’m pretty awesome, aren’t I, Mom?”

Clara says stuff like this all the time, and I’m always both amused and a bit taken aback by her utter self-confidence. To her four-year-old brain, there’s nothing she can’t do or be, and the simple acceptance that she is worthy, lovable, and amazing seems to be wired into her DNA.

Part of me loves her confidence, but I have a hard time simply enjoying it, because there is some little part of my brain that’s waiting for the other shoe to drop. After all, how many kids do we know who are able to carry that kind of nonchalant self-assurance through to adolescence? 

And anyway, should we even be encouraging the kind of childish self-esteem Clara currently displays? Shouldn’t children be taught the value of service and humility? Is it really OK for them to think so highly of themselves?

There’s been a lot of criticism of the self-esteem movement lately and its alleged product, a generation of coddled kids who can’t think or make decisions for themselves. Is it even right to continue to praise kids when experts now seem to think praise is harmful?

Here’s the thing, though: I think we as parents need to make a distinction between offering up empty praise and doing everything for our kids – not good – and helping them to be resilient, capable kids who can feel proud of their own accomplishments – very good indeed.

In other words, feeling good about herself isn’t something I can make Clara do even if I wanted to, but it’s something I can help her equip herself to do – even when she’s entering the rougher seas of elementary school and, eventually (gulp) adolescence. 

And in my experience, it’s the kids who have the strongest idea of their own self-worth – I’m not talking about showy confidence or arrogance, but a quiet belief that they are worthy and lovable and loved – that are also the kindest, most helpful and most humble.

 

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 Every Sunday morning I share a moment from my week and something it illustrated about motherhood, family life, or simply being human. I invite you to set aside a moment out of your weekend for reflection and join me for Sunday Morning Tea. -Meagan

This is Clara. My only daughter. My youngest child. My baby.

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But in just 12 days she will turn five years old. She’s no longer a baby at all.

What happened?

Parents are so often told to slow down, to pay attention, to savor the little moments. And I’ve tried, perhaps with the mistaken idea that that would somehow slow down the process of our kids getting bigger – if not in actuality, then at least in my perception.

But I was wrong. You can notice every little moment with all your might, and they will still pass incredibly, unreasonably quickly. And the real kicker is that no matter how hard you try to lock it all into your memory, later you will find that so much has been forgotten.

Clara is only four, and I still have a lot of very specific memories of her babyhood and beyond. Still, when I see photos of her from that time I’m always momentarily surprised. Oh, that’s what she looked like? And the further I get from those days the more I need the photographic evidence to remind myself of the way it was, the way she was, the way we were. [click to continue…]

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mindful parenting, kristen race

Our kids are living in a distraction-heavy, rushed world.

And as parents, it’s not always easy to find the balance between creating a soft place to land and also helping them cope with the realities of life today.

Today’s guest on The Home Hour Podcast is Kristen Race, Ph.D., a brain scientist, educator, and author of the new book Mindful ParentingRace offers parents research-tested mindfulness strategies that can help kids and parents learn how to cope with distractions, reduce anxiety and stress, and create happier, more peaceful homes. If you worry about the effects today’s world has on your kids,  you’ll definitely want to listen to our conversation on the podcast today.

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If you love our discussion, you can find out more about Dr. Race’s work at her blog or find her on Facebook.

I’m also excited to announce that Shana Draugelis of Ain’t No Mom Jeans makes her first appearance on The Home Hour Podcast this week.

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